Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 13, 1955

False Accusations

Connie W. Adams, Atlanta, Georgia

There are approximately fifty verses in the Bible that deal with some form of the word "accuse." It is quite interesting and revealing to examine some of these passages and to compare them with our own conduct. To accuse means simply to lodge a complaint against someone or something. An accuser is one who lodges such a complaint. Now, an accusation may be proper or improper depending, of course, upon the truthfulness of that which is asserted. In Matthew 27:37 a charge was made against Christ. "And set up over his head his accusation written, This is Jesus the King of the Jews." Although the intention of the accusers was not honorable, yet the accusation was true. Christ was "the king of the Jews," though not in the sense in which they understood the word king. Zacchaeus said "if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." The apostle Paul was often accused falsely by his enemies. Tertullus and others testified falsely against the preaching and work of the great apostle.

In the New Testament at least two methods of dealing with accusations are to be observed. (1) Jesus refused to reply to his accusers on one occasion. "And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing." Matthew 27:12. (2) At other times during his ministry he did answer charges made against him. Paul answered accusations against him. In Acts 24, Tertullus made these charges against Paul: (1) a pestilent fellow, (2) a mover of sedition, (3) a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, (4) a profaner of the temple. Verse 10 tells of Paul's willingness to answer their charges. "I do the more cheerfully answer for myself." The Christian's relation to accusations is a very serious one whether he be the accused or the accuser. Paul said, "Against an elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses." 1. Timothy 5:19. Then, of course, he shows that if the accusation be proved, he should be "rebuked before all, that others may fear." In 2 Timothy 3:2-5 false accusations are listed along with lovers of self, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, incontinent fierce, despisers of good, traitors, heady, high-minded, pleasure-lovers, and deniers of the power of God. To say the least, false accusers are placed in ugly company by the inspired pen. In view of such passages as have been observed it is apparent that it is a serious mistake to be found guilty of spreading false accusations.

We are living in a time when the church is troubled by various practices endorsed by some and opposed by others. It is not uncommon for brethren under such stress and strain to forget the important issues involved, and to become engaged in a charge-hurling campaign that disgraces the cause of our Lord and serves to cloud the real problems that should be honestly discussed. Surely, it grieves the Father to see such an exchange of slime and personal innuendoes apparently relished by some. In this conflict over the place of human institutions much has been said that would better never have been said by brethren on both sides of the question. Others have tried earnestly to cling to the particular points of dispute, ignoring all personal matters. That is to be commended, and is always desirable. However, there seems to be an attitude on the part of some that to challenge the scripturalness of their practice is tantamount to challenging their character. Consequently, they reply more in defense of self than of the matter that was originally questioned. They seem to think there is some virtue in dragging skeletons out of the closet of the man who "dared" to question what they were practicing in the name of religion. Any number of false accusations have been lodged recently against the Gospel Guardian and the men who write for it. A favorite tactic of some brethren "of the middle Tennessee persuasion" is to accuse the Guardian of becoming an instrument for the spread of "Sommerism." They apparently feel that if they cry "Sommerite" or "Ketchersideite" long enough and loud enough, that somebody will believe it. This was done recently at a lectureship in Arkansas by a brother who knows that the staff writers of the Guardian are no more "Sommerites" than is he. The same tactic was used in Indianapolis in an effort to grab at a straw and keep from having to present scripture to justify certain practices. False accusations are often used as cloaks to camouflage the weakness of an argument. Where is the logic in saying that because a man questions the scripturalness of colleges being supported by church funds that he is therefore the enemy of Christian education? Does that prove that he denies their right to exist? If a man questions (and woe to that man who does, according to a certain series) the scripturalness of the institutional orphan home being supported by the church, does that necessarily imply that he is opposed to the care of helpless, homeless children? Because a man questions the right of many congregations functioning through one congregation to preach the gospel to a nation on the radio, does that make him an opponent of radio preaching? Would it be necessarily true that he would not oppose it had he been called upon to do the preaching? These are a few of the accusations that are being made by brethren.

This has not been written as a blanket endorsement of everything said or done by Guardian writers. It is just as wrong for them to make false accusations and charges as it is for anyone else. Before ascribing a certain position to a brother in the Lord, would it not be a good idea to find out if he holds that position? Really, would it not be better to refrain from these personal digs and efforts at character assassination and earnestly strive to discuss the issue?

May we openly discuss differences, pressing points firmly, and at the same time honor and respect one another as brethren in the Lord. Should some accusation be made against us and we choose to answer, then let the answer come to the particular accusation, but let it be separated from a counter-accusation, for this will profit nothing. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Spoken to apostles? Yes, but true, and worthy of our consideration in regard to false accusations.